Steady, Sometimes Heavy Rains Bring Relief

LA MESA -- Heavy rains overnight added to two days of steady drizzle and caused some flooding problems in the region. But for firefighters who have lived each day for the past year awaiting the next brush fire to chase, the rain finally brought some relief.
"Overnight it got heavy and caused some damage, but not anything of significance in La Mesa,'' said Heartland Fire Chief Rick Sitta. "Generally, this was a good rain. Now we need a string of these sorts of rains right through March.''
Sitta and his firefighters have been living with the daily threat of being called out in dry conditions. Grasses and brush dried by years of drought threatened at any moment to require massive response to keep large-scale events from spiraling out of control.
"This is the kind of rain that big fuel can soak up,'' Sitta said. "We had a couple days of slow, steady rain and that works for us.''
And Sitta noted that this storm was state-wide. "We're building snow pack early this year and that will help with the drought somewhere down the line.''
But after years of drought and dry conditions, Sitta is realistic about how quickly a few days of Santa Ana conditions can dry out the grasses and put the firefighters back on the nervous watch again.

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Tags: Heartland Fire & Rescue, La Mesa Today, La Mesa rains

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Comment by midge hyde on December 5, 2014 at 1:40pm
It's nice we have finally gotten a bit of moisture but we need to get with the program with our water usage. I would like to see the city of La Mesa be out in front on cutting back. It was disheartening to be near the municipal golf course and see sprinklers on at 4:30 in the afternoon and not the most efficient ones. What is that all about? I would like to see a real survey of municipal water usage , inside and outside.
Comment by Batman on December 5, 2014 at 8:03am

Wet weather is always followed by dry weather. Nature made our natural vegetation in Southern California extremely combustible and there's nothing we can do about that. However the best offense is a good defense. Forestry departments call it "fuel management". City fire departments call it "weed abatement" It's the removal or thinning of wild vegetation through controlled burning and/or removal by machinery and hand crews.

Our environmental protection agencies are the primary impediment to fuel management. When the San Diego Air Pollution Control District was formed in the early 1970s most controlled burning came to an abrupt halt. Other environmental agencies and groups have also made it difficult if not impossible to remove wild vegetation. Massive loss of property during wild fires is just the price we pay for a squeaky-clean environment.

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